this story originally appeared in the philippine daily inquirer on July 31, 1999.

I’m an incoming senior, turning 21, and slightly overweight. I never had a boyfriend since birth, but now I’m in love with three guys who don’t seem to care. I realized this disturbing fact the night I finally convinced myself that I was indeed in love with Guy No. 3. It’s really bizarre. I mean we are talking about a perfectly sane, emotionally stable adult here. Maybe the emotionally stable part is a lie, but I guess what I’m trying to say is this kind of thing–this ”being in love with three guys” thing–is just impossible. How can you possibly make three guys the center of your universe? It’s suicidal! It’s just absurd, really absurd.

The absurdity of my situation prevents me from disclosing this little secret of mine especially to my closest friends. I can just imagine their silly grins and the suppressed laughter on their faces. There’s no way they will believe me. They’ll think I’m just pulling their leg. But believe me I really think I’m in love with three guys. Please don’t laugh now. Don’t even give the slightest hint that you think maybe, just maybe, I am exaggerating. Okay, you have all the right not to believe a thing I’m saying, but just bear with me and decide later if what I’m saying is true or I’m just in the early stages of dementia.

Let me describe Guy No. 1. Let’s call him Guy No. 1 since he’s the first guy I fell in love with. He was my idea of ”the one” before I met the other two. He’s tall, dashing, studious, athletic, witty, does not smoke, an occasional drinker, childish in a mature kind of way (if there’s such a thing), almost virginal but not quite, simple and practical. I didn’t fall in love with him on the first meeting. It took a few months for me to realize that I was slowly feeling a little bit strange every time I saw, talked, or smelled him. To make things worse, he became a part of the circle of friends I usually hang out with, or to put it more bluntly, I conspired with my friends to make him a part of our group. And so to cut the long story short, he’s now one of my closest guy friends and I’m falling in love with him more each day and I keep telling my friends that I no longer like Guy No. 1, that he’s too nice for me and I never liked him anyway and so does he, and that Guy No. 2 is ”the one” now.

So I wasn’t really supposed to fall in love with Guy No. 2. My plan was to use the second guy to convince my friends that what I felt for Guy No. 1 was a thing of the past. I felt that by doing so, the teasing between me and Guy No. 1 would stop, because I hate it. I hate it because Guy No. 1 is slowly noticing that I like him and he is starting to avoid me, and I can’t stand it. Anyway, going back to Guy No. 2, let’s call him Mr. Cutie (no need to explain, I suppose). He’s not as handsome as Guy No. 1 (come to think of it, he’s not handsome at all). I don’t know, but there’s something about this guy that’s so intriguing. He’s small, chinky-eyed, a fratman, a chain-smoker, not-so virginal looking to me. One thing anyone will notice about him is that he walks in a weird kind of way. It’s so weird that I can’t find the right words to describe it.

Anyway, Mr. Cutie became my classmate in one of my major subjects, and a permanent seatmate for the rest of the semester. I kept telling my friends that I’ve met this really cute guy, who’s really smart, and friendly, and smells really nice and all, and I kept describing how I felt every time we were in that class together, sitting side by side. I kept telling them such things until I successfully fooled them into believing that Mr. Cutie is the object of my affection now. But isn’t he? Well, at first I told myself that maybe I was just confused, I was just internalizing the role that Mr. Cutie was supposed to play in this wicked plan of mine. I was just using him to conceal my affection for Guy No. 1, right? But, it didn’t turn out that way. I started missing Mr. Cutie every time he skipped our class, which was more often than not. Every time he attended our class, I got so excited. I tried so hard to hide it by trying not to talk to him too much but would still end up talking too much.

It went like that for a semester, until I did something really stupid. One night, I got drunk for the first time after downing two plastic cups of vodka. My girl friends dared me to talk to Mr. Cutie. Oblivious of the state I was in, I walked up to him. Later my friends told me I told the clueless Mr. Cutie that I liked him in a drunken kind of way. And it was just so embarrassing. Since that night, I have avoided Mr. Cutie. I tried to act as if I never did what I did that night. I told myself maybe I should stop liking Mr. Cutie because things were starting to get out of hand. But the more I tried to forget him, the more I started to like the guy. In his absence, I would sulk in the company of Guy No. 1, who’s my closest guy friend, remember? But every time I sulked, I realized I was still in love with Guy No. 1 and that my sulking was not entirely caused by Mr. Cutie. The reason was that I’ve met not one but two guys who seemed so perfect for me and yet I couldn’t have either of them because they ignored me.

Just when I thought things were already confusing, Guy No. 3 came into my life. I prefer to call him Mr. Funny Guy. He’s one of the few guys who can really make me laugh. And he’s a good listener also. Our first long conversation lasted three hours, and I felt really important because for the first time in my life someone really listened and talked to me well. I know I shouldn’t be mushy but the talk we had that night was really special for me and I will treasure that. It was not the kind of talk that lovers do, we just talked about whatever came to our minds. I didn’t think twice about telling him about my dilemma with Guy No. 1 and Mr. Cutie. I knew he would laugh about the silly things I did in the name of love for these two guys, but I knew he would understand. And he did, and that was more than enough for me. In the course of our conversation, I discovered that we shared the same fears, the same angst, and that was comforting.

That night, I also felt something for Mr. Funny Guy which I should not have felt because that feeling was already driving me nuts. We went home the next morning and I tried to act normal as usual. I tried to sleep, but as I closed my eyes I pictured myself surrounded by Guy No. 1, Mr. Cutie and Mr. Funny Guy. It was a dream scene for me, with the three men I loved the most and me standing in one spot. As I focused on that picture, the thought which I dreaded most overcame me: the thought that sooner or later I would have to make a choice. And so I stared at the guys one last time before I decided to start getting some sleep because the lack of it was already causing me to imagine unimaginable things. It was strange. As I looked at them, two of the guys seemed to be a blur, while the third looked so clear. All of these silly visions could have been the product of my temporary madness, but who cares? One thing’s certain: I was laughing before I fell asleep. 

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